Design and Make Your Own Perfect Pen

Introduction: Design and Make Your Own Perfect Pen

About: Originally from New Zealand, I am currently living in New York pursuing my MFA at the School of Visual Arts Products of Design program.

Pens have become far too disposable, almost worthless tools that we have far too many of. We only really need one good one, so let's make one good one that worthy of holding on to.

The pen I have made is a compact carry around, opening up into a full size pen with a flip of the cap.

I have designed 20% of the pen, the other 80% can be whatever you want. We will be 3D printing the structure, and the rest can be made from whatever is available to you. Design yourself a perfect pen!

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Step 1: Design

The pen has 3 sections that you will need to make yourself, the grip, the end, and the cap.
Follow the template above and design whatever you want to fill the free space.

Your design will not need to be assembled on pen, Each piece you make slides onto the pen, so you can make these parts separately, and assemble the pen together at the end.

If you have access to 3d modelling software such as Solidworks or Maya, you can produce your design digitally and print the pen and your design together as a single piece.

Digital STL files of the pen and files demonstrating the free space can be found HERE

Step 2: Materials

Your pen will likely be made from 2 main materials, 3D printing and the other is your choice. 3D printing is available in a huge variety of colours, but you'll still probably limited to what you have available.

Here are some ideas for the other material:

  • Metal, wood, or anything that can be turned would be eaaasy and work well with the circular pen.
  • Wrapping coloured paper or newspaper clippings. Maybe draw a picture, then wrap it, easy!
  • Vinyl wrapping material such as 3M's Di-noc. You can get vinyl wraps in carbon fibre, wood, and loads of other textures.
  • String, cotton, or electrical wire could look interesting wrapped around the pen.
  • 3D Print in a contrasting colour, or design a texture to be printed with the pen in one piece.

Above are renders of some possible combinations:

  • Turned wood and transparent black 3D print
  • Turned aluminium and black 3D print
  • Tinted transparent acrylic and black 3D print
  • Coloured paper and white 3D print

If you have a rendering program such as Keyshot, you can quickly visualise options for your own pen. Use the STL files, which can be again found HERE.

Step 3: Finding the Cartridge

We will not be making the complicated ink cartridge and ballpoint bit. Pull a pen apart to get this part.

Most cartridges from cheap pens will work. Just make sure it is plastic so we can cut it to the size we need. From the 4 pens I pulled apart, the first one won’t work, the other 3 will work perfectly. All cartridges feel different to write with, so pick one you like.

For our new pen we need the cartridge to be 80mm long. Simply measure and cut.

Step 4: Printing

I designed this pen to be 3D printed, because we all have access to a 3D printer in one way or another…

Online: If you have access to the internet (which you apparently do) you’ll have access to a 3D printer through an online bureau. Try or

Local: Your local, Maker-space, FABLAB, or community-workshop will very likely have a 3D printer you can get access to. A quick google search for ‘3D printing in (insert hometown here)’ should bring up something local.

You will need to print the 3 sections of the pen, body, end and cap. The 3 STL files you will need can again be found HERE.

When printing the parts ensure they are orientated to vertically. The printer prints in layers, this orientation will be easiest for the printer to stack the layers, and give the best finish.

For my pen I used a consumer UP! printer which I borrowed from my university.

If you designed your pen digitally you will need to flatten your 3 design sections and the 3 sections of the pen into the same file, so that they print together as one part. Just make sure to keep the three sections of the pen, body, end and cap, as separate files.

Step 5: Assembling the Pen

Now's the creative part. Dress the empty space on the pen with your design.

Play around with different materials you have available. I had a play around with copper wire and black fabric, but didn't have enough material of either to finish a pen...

For my final pen I decided to use newspaper clippings. I liked this picture of a robot, so I cut it to shape and glued it around the pen.

Step 6: Finish!

Put the ink cartridge in the pen and assemble. Depending on the quality of your 3D print, you may need to add a bit of glue to hold the pen and pen end together.

Well done. You're done!

Step 7: Sequel

I designed this pen to be possible to make entirely on a 3D printer. But if you have access to other tools, the dimensions can be easily transferred to whatever process you have available. The plans above are for my basic extending pen design.

Pictured is a a telescoping pen I made using these plans. For this pen I used a metal lathe for the structure of the pen and 3D Printed components for the details. It extends when you twist it, it's pretty cool...

The digital STL files for this pen can again be found HERE

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    2 Discussions


    Question 1 year ago on Step 7

    I love the telescoping pen.

    Are those stl files available?

    If so, what pen did you use to get the other parts from?


    -metal end etc...